How To Relieve Pain Naturally
"I’ve been using this mat for about a week (I missed a day) and I have to say I’ve been raving about it. Let me break it down for you:
- My over-the-top headaches have been less frequent. About 9 years ago I was diagnosed with Chiari Malformation and deal with ongoing headaches. Regularly they will become full on migraines - I’m on a daily med but I’ve still had to resort to OTCs. NOT THIS WEEK PEOPLE! I took 2 (count them... 2!) Excedrin Migraines all week.
- My flexibility has increased dramatically. Another fun part of the Chiari is back problems - but this bad boy seems to be helping. I don’t know how but it’s magic.
- You lay on this mat for 5 minutes and your body goes all warm. Supposedly it’s because the blood flow is increasing. I say it’s magic.
- My energy levels have increased and I feel so much calmer during the day. Again, magic.
Now for the cons :-
- My back issues haven’t totally gone away but I have a chronic disorder and it’s only been a week so I can’t expect unicorns to jump out of the spikey things. I’ll keep at it.
- I’m a little bummed it hasn’t yet helped with sleep so far like some other reviewers said. Ah well.
I’ve told pretty much everyone I know about this thing. It’s a solid win for me and for anyone that is dealing with neck, back or headache issues."
If you are like most people living with pain, then you are always on a mission to find new products that can make your life easier. They can range from items that help with accessibility, to items that actually aid in pain relief.
Insomnia, stress, headaches, neck and back pain, are conditions that are practically synonymous with modern life and all too familiar to many people.
It is well worth to note that the FDA pointed out that in 2017 alone, retail pharmacies dispensed over 191 million opioid prescriptions with the US government declaring it a public health emergency! And the problem continues to persist. Why? It is because Opioids are used mostly to treat moderate to severe pain.
5 Major Consequences of Pain, We All Know Only Too Well:
- Your Mobility and Pain - It causes you to move less and more carefully. You may become more cautious and reluctant to engage the same way in your preferred and daily activities. Usually, if you happen to engage in the activity, later on you will feel the after effects.
- Your Emotions and Mood - Anyone who has pain has a very low tolerance to stress and is very sensitive to anything that may worsen it. Because it can take you a long time to get any relief or to improve your symptoms, it can easily be very hard for you to improve your mood and many other emotions as well. Anyone who suffers from this may become more prone to negative moods and depression much easier.
- Your Family Life - Your mobility and sensitivity to pain can impact your ability to be actively involved with your family. This can eventually become frequent days of frustration, avoidance, disagreements and more. Valued time with your family becomes progressively limited.
- Use of Medication - Regardless of the cause of your discomfort, medication has a prominent place in your treatment. Use of medication has its side effects such as constipation, nausea, drowsiness, dizziness, itching or sweating, depression, a weakened immune system, tolerance (over time, your body needs more of the drug to get the same effect), addiction, just to name a few. Pain medication only helps you to feel better!
- Rest and Sleep - Rest and sleep are always compromised. There is no longer a correct or suitable way to rest or sleep well. The only certainty is the need for more of it. Adequate rest and sleep are essential, and being under constant pain is very exhausting both physically and emotionally.
Pain relievers or tranquilizers might bring relief, but what if there was a way to reduce those unpleasant symptoms without taking medication?
Is There A Better Way To Relieve Pain?
Emphatically, and thankfully, Yes there is!
A beneficiary once remarked "When I get a headache, my friend presses a spot on my hand. Somehow, this makes my headache go away..."
If you are not familiar with the concept, Acupressure and Acupuncture, as well as other therapies such as Shiatsu and Reflexology, are a Traditional Chinese Medicine system, based on the premise of a person's energy, or life force.
The Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) system describes special acupoints, or acupressure points, that lie along meridians, or channels, in your body. These are the same energy meridians and acupoints that are targeted by acupuncture and acupressure. It is believed that through these invisible channels flows vital energy or a life force called chi or qi (pronounced ch'ee). It is also believed that 12 major meridians connect specific organs or networks of organs, organizing a system of communication throughout your body. Meridian lines are thought to connect the surface of the body with the internal organs.
According to this theory, when one of these meridians is blocked or out of balance, illness can occur. Acupressure and acupuncture are among the types of TCM that are thought to help restore balance.
Why is all this relevant?
This vital life force or chi, is composed of two kinds of forces, yin and yang, and flows along a sophisticated network of energy pathways, or highways, circuiting the body. It is strongly believed that this energy flow conditions our overall existence; how we think, how we feel, how our body moves... Everything.
A block or disruption in the flow of chi results in discomfort or even illness. To release this blocked energy, or to promote energy flow to a certain area, requires the stimulation (with pressure, needles, or heat) of acupressure points. Acupressure points are areas on the skin that are especially sensitive to, and conduct, bio-electrical impulses. Western scientists, using sensitive electrical devices, have also mapped out and proven the existence of this system of body points. Tension tends to concentrate around acupressure points. When a muscle is chronically tense or in spasm, the muscle fibers contract due to the secretion of lactic acid caused by fatigue, trauma, stress, chemical imbalances, or poor circulation.
Far-fetched? We'll leave that to you, but what isn't, is that stimulating these points, triggers the release of endorphins, which are the neurochemicals that relieve pain. Endorphins work in a similar way to opioids. Often referred to as ‘the body’s natural painkillers’, they help to reduce pain and produce a feeling of euphoria. As a result, pain is blocked and the flow of blood and oxygen to the affected area is increased. This causes the muscles to relax and promotes healing by enabling the tissue repair process to take place.
Some people have a hard time believing in concepts like meridians and energy flow. Interestingly, Western medicine dismisses most of these concepts but still recognizes that acupressure and acupuncture offer legitimate health benefits.
Acupressure inhibits the pain signals sent to the brain through a mild, fairly painless stimulation, which prevents painful sensations from passing through the spinal cord to the brain. Besides relieving pain, acupressure can help re-balance the body by dissolving tensions and stresses that keep it from functioning smoothly and that inhibit the immune system. Acupressure enables the body to adapt to environmental changes and resist illness.
How Does A Mat Help? Really?
An acupressure/acupuncture mat is a foam mat (similar to a yoga mat) covered with over 6,000 tiny plastic spikes to stimulate many different points on your body at once. These are designed to exert pressure on your acupressure points, much like acupuncture but in a non-invasive manner. Acupressure or acupuncture mats are a widely available alternative tool that gives all the benefits of acupressure at your convenience. The spikes aren’t sharp enough to pierce the skin, and the mat can comfortably support a person’s entire body weight thanks to the properties of weight distribution. This allows for directed pressure against specific points throughout the body. An acupressure/acupuncture mat is a means of delivering this deep tissue therapy to various parts of the body, but are predominantly used to tackle neck and back pain.
As a point is pressed, the muscle tension yields to the pressure, enabling the fibers to elongate and relax, blood to flow freely, and toxins to be released and eliminated. As circulation and oxygen levels increase, muscle tension and pain decrease. Increased circulation also brings other nutrients to affected areas. This boosts the body's resistance to illness and promotes a longer, healthier, more vital life. When the blood and bio-electrical energy circulate properly, we have a greater sense of harmony, health, and well-being.
The Gate Control Theory of Pain may explain how these mats help some pain syndromes. Basically, a non-painful stimulus, the spikes on the mat, prevents painful sensations from traveling to the central nervous system, thus suppressing pain. When you bang your shin on a chair or table, for example, you might stop to rub the injured spot for a few moments. The increase in normal touch sensory information helps inhibit the pain receptors activity, therefore reducing the perception of pain. Would you attest to this?
These mats are an acquired comfort, and are not for everyone as some people do not cope well with the sensation of the acupressure spikes. But we cannot deny that they are safer than prescription medications, easier than physical therapy and less invasive than acupuncture. You can feel benefits after lying on one for 5-10 minutes, although some will lie for 20 minutes or more. As it tends to take a while to build up your tolerance to the mat most users opt to lie on the mat clothed, whilst some believe it’s more beneficial against bare skin.
What do you stand to gain with regular use of an acupressure/acupuncture mat? With some being immediate, the health benefits are as follows:
- Helps with stress and anxiety and facilitates focus and calmness.
- Stimulates blood circulation and helps to relax the body and reduce inflammation.
- Energizes the body.
- Increases endorphin production thereby elevating your mood and helps with depression.
- Reduces insomnia and encourages restful sleep.
- Relieves muscle tension by encouraging the muscles to become more relaxed and release their tension.
- Improves body oxygen levels.
- Helps in management of aches and relieves symptoms of pain in cases such as Fibromyalgia, Arthritis, Sciatica, Migraines. It also relieves back, foot and neck pain.
- Helps treat a variety of gastrointestinal issues such as chronic stomach upset, constipation, and helps with digestion
Wouldn't you say this is a far cry from those addictive pain medications which only offer relief and are detrimental to your health?
Proof of Concept
Results will differ from person to person but the consistency of regular use is what makes the difference to pain sufferers. This is what she said;
"I have a severe form of fibromyalgia along with spinal stenosis, degenerative disk disease and pinched nerves. My pain level at times is unbearable. When I saw this mat being advertised that it can help in reducing chronic pain, I was a bit hesitant since I wasn't exactly sold that a spikey mat would do that much to help my pain.
My hubby was the first to try it out without his shirt on because to me it looked painful. He placed it on the couch for extra cushioning. I kept thinking to myself "Wow! Did I really just order a torture device?". It looked immensely painful because it was like a million needles poking into you at once, and seemed like no amount of extra cushioning would ease the pain. My hubby revealed that the spikes hurt upon initial contact, but he stayed on it. Within a few minutes he said the pain had started lessening and that his back started feeling warm. He described the feeling like lying on a heating pad. Another few minutes went by and he said he began feeling his muscles relax. When he got off I saw the tiny numerous imprints on his back, and thought "Ouch! that looks painful."
I decided to wait until close to bedtime and use it on our bed. When the time came, I carefully lay on this medieval torture device. My first thought was "This feels like a cruel joke and a real torture device." I considered getting up but decided to try it for a few minutes. Soon the painful plastic points felt less painful and I began feeling a gentle warmth. I was surprised! I had also placed the pillow under my neck, which didn't hurt as bad. I decided to continue lying for a while longer because I felt the increasing warmth whilst secretly wondering if I had started bleeding and was going to die on this contraption.
Suddenly I started feeling weird things happening to my muscles in my lower back. Usually my muscles feel like tightly pulled strings. While on the mat, it felt like those strings were slowly starting to pull apart, almost like water balloons popping. I felt more warmth and a little pain. Now I know from experience that I get stiff when lying down. So here I am alone, wondering how I'm going to get up without hurting myself. I slowly start moving. WAIT A MINUTE!!!!! Where did my constant companion go? I didn't feel stiff and I felt less pain than I had in years!
When my hubby came to do my night time massage, he couldn't believe how loose my muscles felt, especially in my lower back. Needless to say I slept better than I had in a long time.
This is a helpful product that I am glad I bought, and it even comes a storage bag for when it is not in use or need to carry it somewhere. It will definitely be used every day."
The Healthy Way to Use an Acupressure Mat
- Start slowly. The key to safely using an acupressure mat is steady moderation. Your muscles and skin need at least a few days to adapt and build up a tolerance to the sometimes uncomfortable sensations. While the first five minutes can be slightly uncomfortable as your body settles on the mat, breathing deeply and slowly can help this period pass.
- First, the beginner level, you’ll want to limit the pressure applied to the mat. Drape it against the inner back and seat of a chair, preferably a padded one, or the edge of a couch. Slowly sit up straight against the mat. This allows you plenty of control over the pressure. If the needles feel too uncomfortable, you can simply lean forward. Remain seated for 10 to 15 minutes. You’ll do this for a few days until you feel comfortable. You’ll likely feel some mild irritation when you’re finished using the mat. You’ll probably have many small impressions dotting your shoulders, back, backside, and thighs. Plus, your skin will probably be red and itchy or sore. These symptoms will lessen in severity and duration as you continue to use the mat.
- Next, the intermediate level, you’re ready to try lying down on your back. Place the mat across the seating of a couch or bed. Lie down on the mat in one smooth, relatively quick motion. You don’t want to put too much of your weight on any small section, as that increases the direct pressure against your skin. Lie down for about 20 to 30 minutes. The cushioning effect of the mattress or sofa reduces the pressure against your back.
- The final step to use an acupressure mat is the most intense, and is the advanced level. Instead of a couch or bed, you’ll place the mat directly on the floor. This might be painful for the first few minutes, but soon you should feel a warming, tingling sensation. You’ll definitely feel the acupressure needles against your skin. However, because you’ve taken the time to properly adjust to the mat, the feeling should be far more relaxing than painful. Over time, this will feel incredibly comfortable.
An acupressure mat is an effective pain solution. Is it magical? No, not as magical as a magic carpet ride but it's pretty darn close! Is this going to solve your chronic pain issues? Maybe not, but if you are willing to work with whatever relief you can get, do not underrate the mat's potential!
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